Tale as Old as Time

23 Mar

Blog Post #334

My daughters grew up with Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast. It grew to be a family favourite, watched many times over for many years. It came as no surprise that they could barely contain themselves when the 2017 live action film came out. They went to see it the night it opened.

They loved it (although the eldest liked the original animated version better).

I went to see it this evening and I also loved it.

The movie followed the original closely with a few changes — changes that I think worked well. For instance, a little more of the Beast’s back story was told, adding a new level of understanding to his character. Belle’s father was an artist and not the wacky, loopy inventor as in the original. In fact, Belle was more the inventor — she constructed an ingenious washing machine so that she could read while doing laundry!

One other change that I appreciated, was the movie’s diversity – it was refreshing — subtle and an important step to normalizing different ethnicities in film. I also thought the controversy around LeFou’s “gayness” was a non-issue.

The costumes, make-up and special effects were outstanding — the movie was visually sumptuous. The music was lovely. The familiar songs were well done and I loved the new ones, especially the Beast’s solo.

Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle was admirable — I had been a bit worried that all I would see was “Hermione”, but that wasn’t the case. Watson’s Belle is sweet, kind, independent and strong. And she can sing! I loved Dan Stevens as the Beast — his social awkwardness and his bristly demeanor were somehow endearing. The Beast, in this film version, was not as goofily adorable as the original, but his dark moodiness fit this movie and there were enough glimpses to his softer nature to warrant the audience’s sympathies. Luke Evans and Josh Gad were perfect in their respective roles of Gaston and his faithful sidekick, LeFou. Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza) and Kevin Kline (Belle’s father, Maurice) were all delightful and while their roles stayed close to the original, they each made the characters their own.

This “tale as old as time” is a lavish, beautiful and charming musical remake of Disney’s animated feature — sure to delight those who grew up with the animated Belle and those who will grow up with Emma Watson’s Belle.

I rate this movie: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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